Langney to get temporary library after shopping centre closure

Langney roof collapse The building's steel lattice roof collapsed after a night of heavy rain and wind

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A temporary library is to serve part of a Sussex town after its previous home was shut two months ago when part of the roof collapsed.

Langney Shopping Centre in Eastbourne was declared dangerous on 20 December and has remained closed since.

The temporary library will be set up in St Barnabas Church, opposite the centre, next Saturday.

The church has also started a community cafe for locals to use while the shopping centre is closed.

Tony Freebody, from East Sussex County Council, said: "We are extremely grateful to the Church and other members of the Langney community who have pulled together to enable us to set up this temporary facility."

'Very disappointing'

Wealden District Council has sent samples of the centre's concrete to a building pathologist to find out why the collapse happened.

Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, said he had met with the shopping centre's owners, who had given assurances that the centre would reopen and may even expand.

"It is very disappointing for the traders and for local residents that this awful thing's happened and it's taking so long for the report to come out," he said.

"But it does look as if it's going to have a real positive future which is very encouraging."

London Associated Management, the managers of the centre, said it was in discussions with the local planning authority about plans to invest.

In a statement, the company said: "We have developed proposals to extend the eastern end of the shopping centre to bring new tenants in to meet the needs of the local community.

"Although the incident in December has had an impact on the timing of our plans, we still intend to press ahead with submitting a planning application for the extension."

'Bit of a smokescreen'

Retailers based in the centre said the longer it was closed, the more debt they would get into.

Fleur El-Hspa, owner the Picasso Express restaurant which had to close due to the roof collapse, said regeneration plans had been in the pipeline "for a couple of years".

Plans had been submitted in the past to redevelop the centre, she said.

"I don't think a small atrium is going to really change those plans so I think that's a bit of a smokescreen in a way," she added.

The temporary library will open on 23 February.

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